Tuesday, September 09, 2014

CNN's "Death Row Stories" examines Nathan Dunlap case (Chuck E. Cheese) and Gov. Hickenlooper's reprieve

CNN has aired an original series called “Death Row Stories”, which examines many death penalty cases and the moral issues surrounding it.
Last Sunday, CNN focused on the case of Nathan Dunlap, an ex-employee of a Chuck E. Cheese pizza restaurant in Aurora, CO, who returned after a firing and murdered four employees in a “robbery”  in December 1993.  Dunlap, then 19, was arrested quickly, having told some acquaintances about his plans for a killing spree.  The CNN link is here

Dunlap was examined then by the state for mental illness, and psychiatrists claimed he was faking.  But at his conviction and later sentencing, he went into rants in court.  He was sentenced to death unanimously by the jury quickly.

In succeeding years, Dunlap would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his behavior would improve with medication.
Aurora Colorado would be the site of a heinous slaying of a crime witness Javad Marshall-Fields days before he was to testify against Robert Ray in a murder case, as explained in this Denver Post article  and discussed in the CNN program.  He had gotten a phone call threatening him and was gunned down while driving.  His mother, Rhonda Fields, would become a Democratic member of the Colorado legislature and work for stronger witness protection, which was little known at the time.  The very disturbing 2006 Lifetime film “Family in Hiding”  (by Timothy Bond, with Brenda Strong) demonstrates how witness protection works.  It could never benefit me as I am too public already.
In May 2013, Democratic governor John Hickenlooper signed an indefinite reprieve of the execution of Dunlap, now 39; the stay remains in effect as long as Hickenlooper is on office.  The CNN report emphasized Hickenlooper’s personal questioning of the death penalty.  The effect of this situation is to make Charles Dunlap’s potential execution a political issue; his life could depend on who wins the next election.
The report shows impressive shots of the capitol building in Denver under renovation. 

Aurora is the site of the movie theater rampage by James Holmes on July 20, 2012.  He goes on trial in December 2014.  The best story on motive that I can find on the motive is in the New York Daily News here.  Jury duty for such a case would involve real sacrifice.

Wikipedia attribution link: Buckley AFB in Aurora.  I was in the area in 1966, 1973, and 1994. Haven't been to Colorado in a long time, so I'm overdue.  But it was during lunch in Sterling CO in 1994 that I decided to write my first book.  

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